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Jim Hightower’s December newsletter had this buck-up advice:

Too often we progressive types get all hang-dog about what’s going wrong, failing to acknowledge that many things are actually going right, and that we’re making gains on the greedheads and goof balls who for so long have been running roughshod over common sense and the common good.

Presidential Appointees ………  Yes, Obama has hung such albatrosses as Timmy Geithner, Larry Summers, and Ben Bernanke around our economic necks. But he’s also made some sterling appointments, including Sonia Sotomayor to the Supremes, Hilda Solis to head Labor, Lisa Jackson to run EPA, Steven Chu as Energy chief, Jared Bernstein as chief economic advisor to Joe Biden, and Kathleen Merrigan to be the number two at the Ag Department.

Many other solid progressives have taken over as assistant secretaries, program heads, regional directors, and other key positions- these are the hands-on officials at the operational level of government. If you’ve ever seen the cable show “Dirty Jobs,” you’ll have a sense of the challenges these mid-level appointees face. After Bush & Buckshot’s eight-year frat-house party, the soiling of government programs was so bad that cleaning them would take a giant can of Comet and a wire brush, but the Obamacans have this scrub job well underway (though their efforts get little media attention).

One example of the clean-up process is EPA’s recent moves to reverse The Bushites’ horrific policy of encouraging mountaintop removal. This obscene mining practice by Big Coal amounts to free environmental rape of Appalachia (see Lowdown, November 2005) The new crew at EPA is taking regulatory and scientific steps to stop it. First, they’ve placed 79 mountaintop removal permits that the previous EPA honchos tried to shove through on hold, pending environmental review. Second, they’ve launched a major scientific study of whether the explosion of mountaintops and subsequent shoving of the rubble down into the valleys below destroys streams, thus violating the Clean Water Act.

Here in Missouri, Ken Midkiff, director of the Clean Water Campaign for the Sierra Club, can tell you about the new EPA chief, Lisa Jackson. He went straight to the top when he finally understood that EPA District 7 was going to let the old boys on the Peirce Township Board of Supervisors get away with not paying the $14,500 fine for mauling Dixon’s Crossing on the headwaters of the Jacks Fork River.

They changed it from this:

To this:


Which caused this, when it rains:

Environmentalists threw a fit and got the Township saddled with the fine, which the Supervisors had five years to pay. Their time was up in October of 2009; they hadn’t paid; and the EPA was prepared to let it slide. But Midkiff wasn’t.

He wrote Lisa Jackson four times, and she responded by ordering the regional office to make the buggers pay up. The money hasn’t actually changed hands yet, but if it doesn’t, Midkiff will raise some more hell. In the big scheme of the EPA, $14,500 is a piddling amount. But Jackson gets the principle of the thing. And she will listen if he has to come kvetching back to her about it.

And that was the point of Hightower’s letter.